jon_chaisson: (Default)
When I was in high school, particularly junior and senior year, I had an ongoing experiment with time management.  You know how it is when you're a teen -- all the boring classes go on for eons, the study halls (where you're doing homework that you should have done last night) are far too short, lunch period doesn't start until 11ish and you're hungry by 10.  That sort of thing.  I wanted to better manage all that.

More to the point, I wanted to even it all out a bit, if that makes sense.  Make my day a little more consistent.

Somehow I worked it out by always being conscious of the time.  I got pretty good at assuming I was coming close on the halfway point of a class period.  I figured out the best times to run to my locker and switch books and so on (which, as it happened, was pretty far down one hallway and not that close to some of my classes).  I got quite good at this, to the point where I stopped using a book bag; by the end of the day I only had the needed textbooks and notebooks for that night's homework.  Everything else (pens and my pocket calendar where I wrote down my assignments) was in the pocket of my green trenchcoat alongside my Walkman and tapes.

It seemed to work pretty damn well for those last two years of high school.  My time management, not to mention my grades, got a bit better near the end there.

As for college...?   Well, that's another story entirely.

Anyway...I forgot about that process for a while, mainly because my work and life schedule didn't really need it.  I revived it a bit in the early 2000s when I was working at Yankee Candle.  The reason then was because my Day Job schedule was in fact quite strict by design, to ensure the warehouse floor had unbroken coverage.  It also let me find pockets of free time during the Day Job where I could sneak in some writing prep in the form of short-term outlining.  You all know the rest of that schedule: the mid-afternoon punching-out, the Wednesday comic/cd run, the afternoon anime watching, and the two solid hours of writing work down in the Belfry.

I say all this because I've been thinking about revisiting the process once more.  Sure, I'm kinda sorta doing it already, with my whiteboard schedule, taking strict scheduled breaks at my Day Job (again, same reason -- unbroken coverage), using said breaks for writing exercises, and sneaking in some extra writing during slow moments.

I still feel like I could better manage my time, though.  It's partly the distraction of the internet, but that's easily fixed and I'm not going to dwell on that part.  I've gotten much better in the past few months, especially now that I have my new projects to work on and a solid blog schedule, but I still feel like I'm sort of passively letting time waste away, especially during the Day Job hours.  Even during busy days, I feel I haven't quite managed my time that well.  Perhaps it's time to revisit my time management process again.

Does this sound like being a bit too anal retentive?  Well, maybe, maybe not.  I only get aggravated by screwy schedules when it totally messes with something I really need to get done ASAP.  

But other than that, it's not really about adhering to a strict schedule.  It's just about being more aware of where the time goes and what I do with it.
jon_chaisson: (Mooch writing)

Agent Orange was part of the wave of 80s punk bands out of Orange County, California, and one of the first to mix the genre up with surf rock (and also one of many punk bands all the skateboarders listened to back in the day). This was a distinctively SoCal sound, mixed bright and tight, unlike the deliberately messy sounds of Bay Area punk. They were part of the Posh Boy records roster, and made their way onto Enigma in the middle of the decade. This is probably their second-best known song (early single "Bloodstains" is their claim to fame).

I first heard this song on a compilation I picked up in the summer of 1987 called Enigma Variations 2, which was an excellent sampler of alternative bands on the Enigma label. It features tracks from Don Dixon, Game Theory, the Dead Milkmen, Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, and more. It also contained two tracks from Wire--a band I knew of at that time but had never heard until this album. They'd just regrouped after a six-year hiatus and just released an EP and an album on the label. I figured they had to be good, as the wrapper sticker for their 1987 album The Ideal Copy had kudos from Michael Stipe, Bob Mould and a handful of other punk and alternative bands, saying how influential they'd been. If you can find a copy of this compilation somewhere, I highly suggest picking it up. There's a few duds here and there, but for the most part it's a really tight mix.

If anything, 1987 is when my real social life kicked in. Yeah, I can say that's a bit unfair to all my past friends I knew growing up and knew since my days in elementary school. Many were good friends in the time I knew them, but I admit it was time for me to move on. In the fall of 1986, I had a chance meeting with a kid name Jim who thought my review of Sigue Sigue Sputnik's Flaunt It in the school paper was not only daring (given that I figured about 1% of the student body would know who the hell the band was), but awesome, because he thought he was the only person who'd heard of them. He told me he had a few other friends who thought the same thing, and for a brief moment I thought, hey, I'm not alone in this backwards, hicksville town. Soon after I headed over to their table at lunch time and started hanging out with them. I didn't exactly give my old friends the cold shoulder, but I'll be honest, I started moving away from them pretty quickly.

My main connection with this new group of friends was definitely music. I don't believe any of us were in the school band (unlike many of my previous friends, interestingly enough), and they were all one year ahead of me and probably a hell of a lot more intelligent than I was at the time, but we bonded quickly over music, specifically the college radio stations we listened to and the songs we heard on them, and the episodes of 120 Minutes we'd watch on Sunday nights. In those early days I'd only hang with them during the lunch periods and the occasional study period, as that was the only time I could see them, but we really became a much tighter unit during the summer of 1987, when we started going on our roadtrips to Amherst and Northampton. By that fall we'd hang out all the time during and after school, talking music and sharing our collection, throwing Monty Python and Young Ones references at each other (the shows had resurfaced as part of MTV's Sunday night lineup, and our exchange student that year was a kid from the UK who quickly became part of our circle, thanks partly to a love for those shows). I knew they were all going to be graduating that coming May, but I didn't care...I was finally hanging out with people who were on my wavelength. I'd enjoy it while I could.

I know I go on about it more often than I should, but I still consider those few years some of the best times of my life.
jon_chaisson: (Default)

Object, by J. Chaisson 8 September 1988

It's a bit tetchy in scan quality, but I thought I'd scan and post part of a pen drawing I did in art class back in high school that is very much me--we were supposed to bring in or find an object and draw it for a sketching project, and of course I went straight for what was in my tatty green trench coat on that day: my walkman and three tapes. In particular, you can see that the tapes are The Mighty Lemon Drops' World Without End, The Smithereens' Green Thoughts and The Alarm's Eye of the Hurricane. This would have been the start of senior year for me, so I was pretty much embracing the art/music nerd in me at that point. Art was probably my favorite class that year...I still have a number of my drawings from that time.
jon_chaisson: (Athol sign)
Man, I feel old. Back when I was in high school (sometime last century, 1985-1989), our school paper started out being printed by the Athol Daily News (I think the school had a deal with the paper for some time, if I'm not mistaken). By the time I was there it was on the verge of vanishing because the ADN wouldn't print it anymore, and some of the teachers didn't/wouldn't have the time to help, so it lingered for a semester...that is, until me, Kevin D., Kris E., and a few others decided to resurrect it with the help of PageMaker, a printer, and a few people who were able to swing printing and collating copies.

Now? They have a website for it.

Man, it never fails...all the cool stuff comes around after I leave, every damn time. :p
jon_chaisson: (Athol sign)
(This is an experiment that I'm trying right now...most of my poetry has either been in akin to song lyrics or stream of consciousness thoughts. This is the first time I'm actively trying to get some kind of narrative into my poetry.)

At thirty-nine I'm trying not to yell
at the kids to get off the lawn.
Not that I have one at the moment,
but point being--things aren't like they used to be.

Back in the day,
I'd use those mottled black-and-white notebooks
to let out my frustration and anger at the world.
A bedroom revolutionary, a nonconformist in my own mind,
Thinking myself better than the jocks and the popular kids
(Screw 'em if they won't include me, if they don't like me!)
by embracing my intellect and my creativity.

Back in the day we didn't have the internet,
We didn't have Facebook or Twitter or the blogosphere
to vent our frustration with half-assed indignation.
Our problems were our own and not everyone else's,
except when we befriended similar lost souls.
We held it back, we kept it to ourselves, and moved on.

Back in the day,
there was that elusive college radio station,
the one I found by accident back in '86,
the one that only came in on a good day during the school year.
By the time I was a junior, the station was ubiquitous in my bedroom--
on when I was getting ready for school, on when I got home,
when I did my homework, when I was writing or drawing or reading.
We thought college DJs were the coolest people, and we wanted to be them.
They were us, they were who we wanted to be.
I taped their sets off the radio, songs that were hard to find.
I borrowed albums and tapes from my friends,
dubbing them on blank cassettes we bought at the Radio Shack.
We were obsessed with music, our music.

Back in the day we didn't have a thousand different stations,
podcasts and feeds all ready to be streamed,
all of them alternative and yet all playing the same playlist.
We didn't have music blogs and file sharing,
with every single release awaiting a questionable download to my PC.
We were obsessed, but we were never this obsessed.

Back in the day,
I wore the green trenchcoat of my friend's grandfathers',
my walkman in one front pocket and cassettes in the other.
I wore that Smiths tee-shirt I bought at Main Street Music,
probably more often than I should have, clean or not.
I let my hair grow away from that dreadful 80's spiky 'do,
because I chose to wear what I wanted to wear,
look how I wanted to look.

Back in the day we understood we were outcasts,
and reveled in that fact. We forgave our detractors.
We never saw the need to protect our own,
because we never saw the need to kill the poseurs.
We sought peace in a troubled world, that was all.

Back in the day,
we understood the meaning of a Cold War and the meaning of anger,
because we'd grown up with it.
We knew firsthand about making do with what we had,
and making do with not being able to reach any higher than we could.
We were fine with that, as long as we respected our creativity
and our sense of self, our sense of belonging.
As long as we knew we weren't alone, it wasn't so bad.

Back in the day we didn't feel lost in a global world,
unable to unplug and unable to stop feeding ourselves with information,
knowing--or seeming to know--more than we ever thought we would or could.
We might have wanted the world to be a smaller and more accessible place,
but we never thought it would become this overdriven, or this insane.

If there's anyone to blame, it's myself.
I could easily back away at any time, away from this car crash of life,
because I'm the only one who can control the intravenous brainfeed.
If there's anyone to blame, it's myself,
in this big and terrifying world.

If there's anything to be done,
it's done now, on my own, on my own time,
from my own heart and from my own mind.
jon_chaisson: (Athol sign)
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Come on, you knew I'd answer this one. ;)

Fictional high school? Probably Shermer High. Come on, who doesn't want to meet up with the Breakfast Club kids??

Or, barring that, the fictional version of my high school that I used in my story One Step Closer to You. Sort of like Shermer High if my hometown was actually cool back then. :p

EDIT: Almost forgot...not sure if I'd want to stay there, but a brief visit to Cromartie High School would be fun, if a bit confusing... :)
jon_chaisson: (Athol sign)
As if I don't go on about these things in LJ posts anyway... :p

1. Did you date someone from your school?
Those who know me, know the story well...I did go out with a few girls in junior high and high school, and during my senior year, one of them did introduce me to someone who I ended up going out with for about three years.
It was a great relationship, but we both went our separate ways after awhile. We did recently reconnect, though, and are still friends. :)

2. Did you win anything in Seniors' Who's Who?
I was voted "Unique" in the Class Alphabet. Partly because my junior and senior years I wore the ratty green trenchcoat, listened to alternative music (and wrote about it in the school paper), and despite my nerdiness, got along with everyone, despite my being annoyed by jocks and conformists. ;)

3. What kind of car did you drive?
I didn't drive in high school, although I did get my permit my senior year. I pretty much drove one of my parents' cars when need be. I didn't have my own until I moved back home in '95.

4. It's Friday night...where are you?
Junior year? Probably with [ profile] head58 and that gang, and most likely down in the Amherst/Northampton area. Senior year? Some of the same, when h58 came home from college, but mostly hanging out with other local friends.

5. Were you a party animal?

6. Were you considered a flirt?
See #5.

7. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir?
I was in a band...well, the band. The Flying Bohemians, with h58. School-wise, I hung out with that crowd, as I'd known most of them from way back.

8. Were you a nerd?
What do you think? ;)

9. Did you get suspended/expelled?
Nope. I wasn't exactly a goody-goody, but I rarely got in trouble, and never to that extent. Just the occasional stay-after-school for missing homework assignments or something.

10. Can you sing the fight song?
We had a fight song?? I think we stole the Notre Dame theme...

11. Who were your favorite teachers?
Mr Jolly (history), Mr. Ronco (english), Ms. Hause (art), Mr. Blanchard (publication class and the only teacher who knew who New Order were), Mr. Tarolli (history), Mr. Grazis (english). I'm sure there are more, but the names escape me at present. I got along with a lot of my teachers, brown-noser that I may have been.

12. Where did you sit during lunch?
For awhile I sat about halfway in the cafeteria, near the west windows, or out in the courtyard if the weather was good. Later on I would eat in the Publications Room with a few friends so we could fool around on the Mac work on the school paper.

13. What was your school's full name?
Athol High School. w000t.

14. School mascot?
A little fightin' Indian guy. We were the Red Raiders. Yeah, not very PC, but back then it didn't even occur to us, and no one complained until MANY years later...

15. Homecoming court?
Pff. Hell if I can remember. I certainly wasn't on it.

16. If you could go back and do it again, would you?
Actually, yes. I'd make sure I didn't slack off and do half-assed work, and get much better grades. And perhaps not be such a Morrissey-like doofus. And I would have wanted to skip a grade so I could hang out with h58 and that gang more.

17. What do you remember most about graduation?
The valedictorian's speech was the typical "we don't know what the world will give us, we don't know where we'll be" sort of thing and a bit trite, but the salutatorian's speech was very Gen-X, very "yeah, the world may suck--but go and kick ass anyway"...very inspiring, actually.

Oh--that, and leaving a box of Twinkies in my Class Will to Mrs. E., who had said a version of "whatever floats your boat" but using a Twinkies euphemism without thinking. *evil grin*

18. Where did you go senior skip day?
I don't think we had one. If we did, I probably just hung out at home.

19. Have you gained some weight since then?
Heh. Yeah. And I really should lose it.

20. Who was your Senior prom date?
Technically, [ profile] head58, if you count actually DJing my senior prom with him. I would have gone with my then girlfriend, but she was unable to go, so I opted to help h58 instead. Much fun, and it inspired a great ending piece to the original version of Decline and Fall.

21. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion?
Already went, it was in the middle of the woods in Athol, and it was...weird, but fun. A lot of people I knew and remembered, but couldn't remember the name of. Next year is 20 years (good gravy! O_O...). I doubt I'll go, since I'm on the other side of the continent, but it would be interesting to see some of those people again...

22. Who was your home room teacher?
Senior year? Gods...Mrs. Tarolli, I think? Homeroom for seniors was basically the cafeteria.

25. Do you still talk to people from school?
Aside from h58, I recently rehooked up with my ex as well as a friend I knew since junior high. Not too many others, though...

26. What year did you graduate?
1989. Man, I'm old...

Yeah, eventually I'll write Decline and Fall and publish it...


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